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Housing market in WNY heats back up

After an unusual blip in the prior month, Western New York’s housing market got back on track in August, as home sales rose, buyers inked more deals, and prices inched back up.

According to new data from the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors, closed deals rose 5.7 percent in August, to 1,362. That’s the second-highest number for any month in the last 16 years, barely short of the June 2010 record. It also returns to a growth pattern that saw increases from year to year in 10 of the last 12 months.

It’s still slower than the double-digit growth rates in prior months, most of which exceeded 20 percent. But even so, for the year to date, completed transactions are up 21.3 percent to 7,799.

And that puts the market on track for a record year. “There’s so many buyers out there that when a house goes on the market, all the buyers fly like a beehive there,” said Terri Gentry, operations manager for broker Tammy Capozzi’s team at Keller Williams. “The minute it goes on sale, they’re there.”

Even more, the pipeline is primed and ready for more. Pending sales, where an agreement is signed but the deal hasn’t closed, rose 7.4 percent to 1,234 in August. That’s the highest for the month since at least 2001, and the eighth-highest on record for any month. So far this year, pending deals are up 12.8 percent, to 9,165 – also on pace to eradicate the prior annual record.

The August data represents a turnaround from July, when sales dipped for the first time in more than a year, while homes sat longer on the market. Real estate brokers said the drop was caused by the low inventory, which made it harder for buyers to find homes and make deals in July. And they insisted that it didn’t reflect any real dropoff in demand – as demonstrated by the pickup in August.

“I am not surprised at all by these numbers,” said Susan Lenahan, broker at M.J. Peterson Corp. “Last month was just an aberration. Sales continue to be very strong and there are still multiple offers on many properties, particularly in the city. Buffalo is finally being recognized all over the country as the place to be, especially for younger people.”

But the pickings are still somewhat slim for many buyers. New listings fell 4.9 percent to 1,681, while the total inventory of homes for sale dropped 27.1 percent, falling to 4,273 available houses – the lowest level for the month of August since at least 2000. At the current rate, that would last only 4.1 months of sales.

“This is actually the very best time to be selling because there is a backup of buyers and no inventory,” said Bonnie Clement, a broker at Hunt Real Estate Corp. “The market has really slowed down because of the lack of homes available.”

The tight inventory also continues to put upward pressure on prices. The median sales price – half sold for more, half for less – rose 0.7 percent to $136,000. That’s the fourth-highest on record for any month since January 2000.

The average rose 3.5 percent, to $164,454 – the fifth-highest average price on record in the last 16 years. In the previous two months, the average also topped $164,000.

“Prices have been up consistently this past year,” said Capozzi. “They were up high last year, and this year it’s even higher. The supply and demand is crazy.”

BNAR reports arms-length transactions between its member Realtors in the eight-county Western New York area, plus a few sales from Livingston and Monroe counties near Rochester.


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